GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - It has stood in the same place in Downtown Gainesville longer than most of us have been alive. Now, Alachua County commissioners have spoken, and a confederate soldier statue is slated to be moved. The Confederate statue has stood near the heart of downtown for more than 100 years but will soon move to a nearby museum.
"Old Joe" as some call the Confederate Soldier statue, has stood in Downtown Gainesville since1904, on the grounds of the Administration building, in the City, Commissioner Charles Chestnut calls home. "It's not a good sign. It's a sign of oppression. It's a sign of times past,” said Charles Chestnut, Alachua County Commissioner. “Also, when the statue was put there in 1904, blacks in this community didn't have a say in whether to put it there or not."
Tuesday, after months of discussions, Alachua County Commissioners voted 3 to 2 to move the statue two blocks down the road, to the Matheson Museum. It's the same statue Chestnut said was defaced with graffiti earlier this summer. He heard from people on both sides. Chestnut voted for the move. Chestnut said "I felt the best place for it to be was at a museum. where folks who visit Alachua County can actually visit it and get the history."
Ken Cornell is also a County Commissioner "I don't necessarily object to that idea, I just thought of this as a opportunity." Cornell voted ‘no’ on the motion, saying he heard from many people on both sides, but would rather add a statue to it. "For us to keep the history that was here in 1904 but add to that and acknowledge what has been missing from our history,” Cornell said, "which is the African-American soldier who fought for his freedom."
According to the motion, the museum has to agree to display the statue outside in public, use public money to move, install, insure, and maintain it. Also, the County engineer must examine and approve the tools and techniques of the move. Also, the County Attorney must develop an agreement that donates the Confederate Statue to the Matheson Historical Museum.
Chestnut saids "I hope it brings us together and not divide us.” He added that there is no set time frame on when this statue could be moved.